Another Day at the Office
To kick off our July focus - women at work - one of Mona's favourites, prize-winning author Caroline Tuohey, shares a cheeky solution to that patronising boss whose obsession with office stationery takes on a darker side...
Mona stopped typing and looked at the letter Mr Hillway had dropped on her desk. A yellow post-it-note was stuck to it. Change the date, it said.
Tears welled in her eyes. Change the date! What difference did it make if the letter had yesterday’s date on it? She’d typed it yesterday. If he’d signed it then, it would have been fine.
She grabbed the post-it-note and added it to her collection in the bottom drawer. There were hundreds of them. Right from day one of her employment as Assistant to Mr Arthur Hillway - Chartered Accountant, she’d been the recipient of pedantic post-it-note edits. A tear of frustration slipped down her cheek.
Mr Hillway’s voice jolted her back to the present. 'Mona, have you adjusted that letter yet? It’s been over three minutes. You’re not day dreaming again are you?'
Mona clenched her teeth. 'No, Mr Hillway, I’m fixing it now. It will be ready in a second.'
She hit the print command on her computer and watched the letter slide out of the printer.
As she walked into his office, she looked at the clock on the wall. His whole life was bound up in it – he was obsessed with time and numbers and lest she forget, post-it-notes.
She placed the letter on his desk for signature. As he picked up his pen, he glared at her over his glasses. 'You know Mona, when I hired you, I assumed you had drive and initiative, but leaving the wrong date on a letter shows me you’re not in control.'
Hatred boiled up inside her. Now she was being told she wasn’t in control! Well, that was the last straw. 'So let me make sure I understand you Mr Hillway. You want me to make decisions – be in control of my actions. Do what I think is right?'
'Yes Mona, that is exactly what I want,' he snapped, scrawling a signature on the letter.
Mona nodded, picked up a marble book end and with a single blow to his head, made her first decision.
As he slumped forward, she realised she now wouldn’t have any letters to re-type tomorrow. She sighed with relief. Then she walked slowly back to her desk and sat at the computer. Five minutes later, an updated resume slid out of the printer. Twenty minutes later, she’d tidied her desk and was ready to leave. In the silence created by his murder, she heard his wall clock ticking and she smiled.
Friday dawned bright and sunny and with it, a puzzle for the local police. Constable James was quite mystified. 'It’s not the murder itself that bothers me,' he said, phoning into the station. 'That’s obviously come from a blow to the head. No, it’s the other stuff. His mouth is jammed full of spitballs. They’re a yellow colour. Probably made from post-it-notes – there’s a whole wad of them on his desk. But they’re not bloodied, so they were put in his mouth after he was killed. And get this – the wall clock is lying on his chest with "Time’s up" scrawled across it in lipstick. Now why would anyone want to jam post-it-note spitballs into a dead accountant’s mouth, then dump a clock on the body? What would provoke someone to do that?'
Caroline Tuohey is a children’s writer and bush poet who from time to time, writes short
stories as well. Her latest picture book, ‘Skadoodle & Snug’s Magnificent Plan’ (published by Larrikin House) was recently honoured as a finalist in the Children’s Picture Book Hardcover Fiction section of the 2021 International Book Awards.
This is Caroline's third publication with Mona Magazine and blog, and she has also kindly presented free workshops for the Mona community. Caroline lives on a farm in the Riverina with her husband, two children and various pets.